In the weeks running up to Christmas, Maidstone and the Weald MP Helen Grant grasped the concerns of constituents regarding certain rural bus services seriously affecting our school children.
Firstly there were continuing issues with Arriva's 5 service from Cranbrook to Maidstone. Amongst other problems the most pressing was an amended departure time which meant children were having to reach the bus stop around two hours prior to their scheduled arrival at school. The second was the proposed cancellation of the Nu-Venture 28 service from January 2016 which travelled through Marden to Maidstone.
Problems faced on both of these buses had a mutually detrimental knock-on effect. For example children from Marden who could no longer travel on the 28 service, were likely to go from Staplehurst instead creating further difficulties on the No 5 buses.
Issues relating to the No. 5 service have long been the focus of a Bus Committee chaired by Helen since 2014 and attended by Arriva buses, Kent County Council, local head teachers, councillors and parents.
With the added worry about the loss of the Marden service Helen wrote an urgent letter to Paul Carter CBE, Leader of Kent County Council, to find a resolution and just before Christmas she received some very encouraging news;
"I am very pleased that Kent County Council and Arriva have listened to the voice of our Committee and thank them for implementing these vital changes. I look forward to more developments in the future as we continue to work together to provide a better quality service for all users, but particularly our school children."
Mrs Julie Derrick, Headteacher for Invicta Grammar School and Bus Committee Member said:
"We have been extremely grateful for Helen's invaluable support in securing the new services to the 5X and the 28, as well as that of the bus providers. The changes to the services will be instrumental in helping a significant number of students and their parents in the local community. We will now have much happier students; they travel long distances to get to school and it is important that their journey is as easy as possible, if they are to have the right mind-set for learning when they arrive. I shall look forward to the new services having a positive impact on the welfare, happiness and most importantly learning of our students."
Local constituent Mr Colin Whittle said:
"I contacted Helen with concerns for my Grandson, who attends Oakwood Park, and his travel to school. She quickly replied advising of her action on this and followed up with further information from Kent County Council. A solution to the route 28 problem seems to have been put in place immediately upon her involvement."
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